No Stranger to Grief

Sorry friends that I’ve been MIA. Life has just been busy and to be honest, I just needed a little break. But I’m back! The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “grief.”

I’m no stranger to grief. From October 2017 to December 2018, I lost nine family/friends to death. A seminary classmate, then my favorite high school English teacher, then my friend Ben, a seminary professor, Ben’s brother Aaron, my friend Rachel, my friend Paul’s wife Stephanie, our dear family friend Jim, and finally my Grandpa Wilbert; two days before Christmas.

To say that that year was overwhelming is an understatement. I was so overcome by the grief of these friends and family. Grief at times can be paralyzing. We don’t know how to move on without them. Life is different and missing those we loved. Grief sometimes also comes not through physical death but the change of a job etc. God sits with us in all of our grief. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes; “mourning and crying and pain will be no more.”

Yet it isn’t until Christ returns that we will fully know that reality. So I cling to the Ecclesiastes text about seasons. “ a time to weep and a time to mourn,* a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted etc.” There is a time for every season under heaven.

Jesus weeps with us. Jesus knows the grief we feel and sits with us. Jesus will make all things new again. I’m reminded of one of my favorite scriptures Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” After long days of weeping, long days of grief, joy will slowly return. I promise I’ve seen it after the year of grief.

A Mosiac made and gifted to me by my friend Laurie H. Isn’t it stunning?!

Sitting on the Edge

The tears have been sitting on the surface since Tuesday. This morning, I went to post a Tik Tok video and the tears immediately let loose. Our world is more divided than ever and I’m not sure if there is any hope left.

I mailed in my vote because we are in the midst of a pandemic and I need to do my part to keep the vulnerable among us safe. It saddens me that my vote and the votes of many other mail in voters are being questioned right now. Our country has an election process in place to protect and honor the votes of all of us. It would do us all good to be patient in this moment.

However, what saddens and angers me the most is how we are treating one another. I’ve seen so much evil and hatred. I’ve even seen others flat out attacking the other side. It doesn’t make us look good to the rest of the world at all.

Have you taken the time to truly ask someone why they voted the way they did? (I know that I could be better at this). I believe that we could learn a lot and help bring our world together if we used our own righteous anger and rage to unite us rather than divide us. Doesn’t God call us “to love our neighbors as we love ourselves?”//

Several months ago, I joined a book study/discussion talking about racial inequality and white privilege. We’ve read “White Fragility,” “Stamped,” “Between the World and Me,” and many others. These books have helped me to learn what it means when we say phrases like “All lives matter.” All lives do matter but not until black lives; indigenous live ; BIPOC lives matter.

I joined this book club because I’m a lifelong learner. But more than that, I joined because I want better for my friend’s children especially those children who have been adopted from other countries. These children have not been immune to racism. Sadly they experience it almost every day of their young lives.

It makes me think of the people in the book of Jeremiah who were in exile for over 70 years.
What must it have been like to be the outsiders? What must it look like for those in our country who are often seen as the outsiders? Perhaps we could take a different perspective and learn from each other.

I want better for them. I want better for all of us. I want us to move beyond you’re right w f I’m wrong. I want us to move towards love and justice rather than hatred and evil. Words do matter!

These tears that I have cried are holy tears that are calling me to do better. They are calling me to truly live out the words of Micah 6:8 “But what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.”

No matter what happens, friends, our work is just beginning!

More Than A Building

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “church.”

When I worked at camp, we had this poem we would teach the kids: “Here’s the church, Here’s the steeple, open the door, and see all the people.” It even came with hand motions. This catchy little poem is so fun, but I think in some ways it’s not telling the whole truth.

You see, the church is more than a building. During the last several months, we’ve realized that church can happen online. It can happen in a parking lot or on the church lawn. It truly happens anywhere two or three are gathered in Christ’s name.

Sadly too often I think many of us make the church building an idol. What would happen if a fire or hurricane or something destroyed your church ? Would you still be able to worship? Of course! Don’t get me wrong, I missed being in the building but I also realize the beauty of worshipping anywhere two or three have gathered in Christ’s name.

As a deacon in the church, my calling is to show God’s people that the church can and is more than a building! I am called to send God’s beloved our into the world sharing God’s love with the world.

She Believed

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “could.”

A few summers ago, I climbed almost to the very top of Estes Cone in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It was one of the hardest things I’ve tried to do but I was determined. And the views were 100 percent worth it.

“She believed she could, so she did!”

Who would have ever thought that I would attend seminary and become a deacon in the ELCA? I struggled with systematic theology, but due to a smart professor, we figured out a way for me to learn more effectively. I finally passed that class.

“She believed she could, so she did.”

Writing words on a page is a gift God has given me. I never quite imagined I’d use words to tell my family’s story of mental illness and self publish my own book. I’m proud of that little book.

“She believed she could, so she did!”

There are so many things I’d still like to accomplish in my life like fostering etc. I know that Gods got me as I strive to reach those goals. The journey is not over yet!

“She believed she could, so she did!”

Weary

This pandemic continues on with no end in sight. People debate over the validity of masks vs no masks. Some think this pandemic is simply just a hoax. We cannot seem to agree on anything.

And in the midst of a pandemic, we find ourselves in the midst of a political campaign too. Republican vs Democrat, Liberal vs Conservative, and the list goes on and on. Again we find ourselves arguing over things rather than trying to understand where the other side is coming from.

Our world is full of so much injustice and callousness too. Jacob Blake didn’t deserve to be shot seven times. There are so many crying out to be heard and their cries often seem to fall on deaf ears. As I read and learn more about racism, I see my own complacency and know I/we need to do better for our siblings of color.

I know not everyone will agree with me but one way I believe we can do that is by not calling Covid the China virus. Yes, it originated in China but people use that to sling racism and hate at the Chinese people. Are we not better than that? I hope and pray that we are!

There is so much I want for our world. I want justice. I want peace. I want us to see each other for our differences rather than letting those differences separate us. I want this to be a better place for our children, grandchildren, etc to grow up in. Yet I’m not sure we can ever get there. Every day I try to listen to those voices that are different than mine. However, often those conversations turn to hate and arguing. It feels as if I’m wasting my breath trying to find common ground.

And I’m weary, friends…weary at trying to love my neighbor, weary at fighting for justice, weary at our world and how we treat one another. Yet in my weariness and tiredness, I cling to the hope of Christ; the hope that one day we will truly be united as Gods beloved people.

Where do you see hope in our world today?

What Do You Miss?

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “loud.”

Over these last several months, life has been so uncertain. I’ve loved the time I’ve had with my kitties. But to be honest, there is so much I miss. I can’t wait until the day we get to hear those sweet sounds, hug those we love and not live life in the midst of a pandemic.

I miss the sound of sports fans in stadiums. It’s just not quite the same with virtual fans.

I miss gathering in worship without a mask on. I miss the sounds of children laughing and people conversing over coffee.

I miss the loud sounds of theater and music concerts. My heart is so ready to watch a concert with friends. But until then I’ll just blare my favorite tunes all over my house.

I miss seeing friends and family’s smiles and faces!

Oh how I miss this and so much more. I can’t wait to hear those sweet loud sounds again. What do you miss hearing, friends?

And for fun, here’s an oldie but a goody that I love to jam out too!


We All Need Mercy

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “mercy.”

“But what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy/kindness and walk humbly with your God.”-Micah 6:8

I immediately thought of this Bible verse when I heard the word prompt this week. This was my seminary class’ verse. It is on a banner that hangs in my office at church. This is how I want to live my life. I want to fight for justice. I want to love kindness. I want to always walk with my God.

It also made me think of the book and movie Just Mercy which is written by Bryan Stevenson. This book is about the Equal Justice Initiative and their goal to help those who have been wrongly accused. It is also a book about racism and how we still have work to do. I watched the movie in June when it was free on all streaming platforms. It also will be our book club book in December. Please if you haven’t read the book or movie, check it out. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Stevenson is quoted as saying, “The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it’s necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and perhaps we all need some measure of unmerited grace.” Ponder that!

Because God‘s grace is a free gift given to us all.


What’s Right?

I’ve missed you all! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve played along. The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “right.”

Right or left? Right or wrong? That’s where my brain went when I heard this weeks word prompt for Five a Minute Friday. When it comes to right or left handed, you are either one or the other or you are both: ambidextrous.

Now you would think when it comes to right or wrong, we would be able to determine what is right or wrong. For Christians, we look at the fruits of the Spirit, the Ten Commandments, etc. But the reality is that right now, it’s not so easily cut and dry.

Some of us see wearing a mask as the right thing to do: to protect our neighbors. Others see the right thing as choosing not to wear a mask. Some see homeschooling as right for the time being while others see sending their kids to school as the right thing.

To say that determining right or wrong during this pandemic is complicated is an understatement. Yet what I do know is right is to love one another despite our differences. We can love each other even when we disagree. Because ultimately Gods love wins and that’s what is right in this world.

Respecting One Another

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “respect.”

R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Yes I immediately started belting this song out when I heard the word prompt.

Respect is something we all can use especially right now. We need to learn to respect each other even when we disagree. It would be a pretty boring world if we all looked, acted and believed the same thing.

I know not everyone agrees with me. In reading the scientists and listening to epidemiologists, I believe wearing a mask protects my neighbors especially those less vulnerable than me. Yet I respect that not everyone agrees with me.

I fail at this often, but I want to be better at respecting all Gods people. I want to be respectful in this world but I also want to listen and learn from those that are different than me: the ones who haven’t always been shown the respect they deserve.

.

Smiley

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “smile.”

When I was in college, my friend “Chewy” (his last name was Chewakin) gave me the nickname “Smiley.” Whenever I heard “Smiley” I knew he was calling out for me. His friendship was a gift. Sadly Chewy committed suicide. It was such a loss to our community. I have never let anyone call me “Smiley” since Chewy gave me that name.

He told me that I always had a smile on my face so that’s why he gave me that nickname. I do like to smile. In fact, it’s one of my favorite features.

I don’t smile when I’m sad or upset, so I don’t smile all the time. I’m reminded of the quote “Don’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened.” There are situations in life that I don’t think this always applies (our current pandemic) to but for the most part it’s true.

*I smile….at Luna and Neville. I smile at new books. I smile at a rainbow after the rain. I smile when I get to spend time with those I love. I smile at the little things.

What is making you smile in these days?